Dripping Faucet of Fire Ants

It is a classical result that the dripping from the leaky faucet is chaos. Like the idea of the butterfly effect, the beautiful world of chaos is full of not only unpredictibility but also order.

When the water faucet is very leaky, the dripping is periodic, i.e. the time intervals between droplets are a constant. When the faucet is closed more, the time intervals become chaotic and unpredictable. However, interestingly, when the faucet is closed, even more, dripping becomes bi-periodic. The intervals between droplets always fall into one of the two possible values!

We are testing if similar dynamics can be observed in the fire ant aggregations. We have the setup where the fire ants can ‘drip’ in clumps out of a container. Careful experiments are being carried out to reveal features about the active systems.